It’s a sweet spot, seven game slate tonight with a few favorite target teams playing and a few low tempo, not-so-happy-to-target teams going in the mix. There is a 208 game with a one point spread and it goes down all the way to 193. Also, there are only two players over 8.2K on the slate, so roster construction should have a lot of options tonight. Any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72.
Chicago Bulls @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: Bulls -3.5
Both teams are below average in pace, even though the Bulls, as many teams do when they speak in the preseason, say they want to go faster. The Hornets have never made such a statement and are among the bottom ten this year (short sample so noted) as they were last year.
The Bulls can usually be had at the point guard, small forward and center positions, so Kemba Walker and his 26% Usage rate is in play, as is the similarly productive Al Jefferson. On the other side, because the Hornets play a lot of 2-PG sets, with either Jeremy Lin or P.J. Hairston at the 2-guard, opposing twos are very much in play, especially the uber-talented Jimmy Butler. Butler is a cash game gimme and in play for GPPs as well.
Charlotte has also been running Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller at PF with less than average results. With Nikola Mirotic starting at the four, he’s a good target, too, for the Bulls.
– Nikola Mirotic ($6,700)
– Jimmy Butler ($7,700)
– Kemba Walker ($7,000)
– Al Jefferson ($6,900)
Atlanta Hawks @ Miami Heat
Line: Heat -4
The Heat vowed to play faster this season and with Goran Dragic that’s a good idea. But, just as it didn’t happen last season after they traded for him, it’s hasn’t developed so far this season, either. They were second slowest last season in the league and they have moved all the way up to third worst so far this season. The Hawks are average in the pace category, being middle of the pack last year and playing slightly faster than that this year.
The Hawks knew that they were going to struggle replacing DeMarre Carroll at small forward and, so far, that has been the case defensively, which could help Dwyane Wade and/or Luol Deng if the Heat play small. Also, the Hawks are good for bigs, in one part because Al Horford, while being great in many ways, isn’t great at being seven foot, because he’s not. As such, in giving up height, he moves outside to score, which he can do well, but that means he’s not a threat for drawing fouls, meaning someone like Hassan Whiteside, who may struggle in that area, would be in less danger. Also, the Hawks notoriously do not crash board on offense, preferring to get back defensively. They finished dead last in OREB% and are fourth to last already in this early season. Whiteside is a great play in this game.
On the other side, Miami has been pretty stout, and the Hawks often spread out their minutes and overall suppress big numbers from their core players. However, this season, Paul Millsap has been seeing more minutes (about 36 per game) than any other player on the team, he’s the one that fills the box score columns and defending the power forward position is what the Heat do least well. Finally, Thabo Sefolosha is out for this game, meaning all the minutes for Kent Bazemore.
– Hassan Whiteside ($7,300)
– Kent Bazemore ($4,200)
– Paul Millsap ($8,000)
– Dwyane Wade ($7,000)
Indiana Pacers @ Detroit Pistons
Line: Pistons -5
This is a surprising total, considering both teams are bottom ten pace teams from last year and the Pacers are 12th slowest this year, else they would be starting off the season in the same places. Also, both teams were bottom ten in Offensive Rating (OFFRAT) last season and are close to that again this season (Pacers fifth worst, Pistons 13th worst). We shall see.
Last season the Pistons could be had inside but this season things have shaped up with both Andre Drummond and Ersan Ilyasova rocking tight Defensive Ratings (DEFRAT). That could change as Andre had a personal 107 DEFRAT last season and Ian Mahinmi could benefit. CJ Miles has underpriced to start the season but is still in good shape to grab value at 4.2K against Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
For the Pistons, Marcus Morris has been a minutes magnet so far at small forward and the matchup against the Pacers looks good. Andre Drummond has been priced around 8K (8.2 tonight) and has delivered the double-double goodness in all three games and 50-burgers in two of the three games, with the third being against the Utah You’re Not Going to Scores. He will go up in price so roster him now in a game where there will be plenty of rebounds.
A quick word about the uber-talented Paul George. George is priced at $8,100, which would be a steal for someone with top end talent as PG. However, the Pacers, as we noted above, are not running efficiently offensively and they have two usage dogs in the backcourt taking possible possessions away from George in Monta Ellis and George Hill. I can’t go in on George to get 50 DK points to make value when the environment doesn’t exist for him to do it. I will now go into a corner and wait for the 60-burger he’ll put up against DET, but I’m not seeing the path tonight.
– Andre Drummond ($8,200)
– Marcus Morris ($5,600)
– C.J. Miles ($4,200)
– Ian Mahinmi ($4,100)
Orlando Magic @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -3
Battle of two new coaches and both Alvin Gentry and Scott Skiles have their teams playing up tempo basketball so far, both being above average in pace for the season. It has made either team better offensively, as both are in the bottom half of the league in OFFRAT and eFG%, but hey, more possessions, more fantasy stats, right? Welcome aboard, gents!
The Pelicans have struggled offensively mainly due to a lack of stability at the point guard position. Jrue Holiday is injured and on a double-whammy of a minutes restriction and not playing on back-to-back nights. The Pelicans don’t play again until Friday, so he’s in play, which limits a nice value play in Ish Smith. Holiday against Memphis played 27 minutes so while Ish can score a fantasy point per minute, if Holiday plays, he’s very limited, as witnessed by his 11 minute assignment vs. Memphis. This has negatively impacted Anthony Davis, but….he’s still 10.5K, put up 55.3 in a do-over matchup against Golden State, who shut him down previously and now he gets the Magic who miss a lot of shots. Also, Omer Asik may have aggravated his calf in his first game of the season, leaving the possibility of Alexis Ajinca to start. If so, he’s a great value at 3.3K.
As for the Magic, they can attack that weakened, injured Pelican backcourt. Tyreke Evans is out for a while, so the talented guard tandem of Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo should be in good shape against a rehabbing Holiday, Ish Smith and Eric Gordon. ‘Dipo has registered over 38 DK points every game and Payton, like Oladipo, finished up his rookie season by averaging 37+ DK PPG.
– Elfrid Payton ($6,200)
– Victor Oladipo ($7,500)
– Anthony Davis ($10,500)
– Alexis Ajinca ($3,300)
Toronto Raptors @ Dallas Mavericks
Line: Raptors -1.5
The Raptors are top ten in pace so far this season and the Mavericks…well, you just don’t know about the Mavericks due to their myriad injuries coming into the season. Despite the injuries, the Mavericks are in the top half of the league offensively and the Raptors are currently eighth.
The Raptors are getting great production out of the gate from their top scorer, DeMar DeRozan. A high-volume free throw shooter, DeRozan has had two 40+ DK games this season. But he goes against Wesley Matthews, who just held Kobe to a 3-15 shooting night. With Matthews on DeRo, the Raptors may lean more on Kyle Lowry, who hasn’t been bad himself to start the year, but is priced very high at 7.9K.
For Dallas, the grand old man, Dirk Nowitzki is still popping DK points, but his minutes aren’t going above 30, leaving his value point at 40, which would be difficult with those minutes. There just aren’t a lot of solid values built into this game due to odd minutes distribution, matchup, etc. There are some solid cash game guys with solid floors like Dirk, but it’s hard to find a super high ceiling among any of the guys.
– Dirk Nowitzki ($6,800)
– Wesley Matthews ($4,500)
– Patrick Patterson ($3,700)
– Jonas Valanciunas ($6,200)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Grizzlies -7
Memphis is coming off an embarrassment of a beatdown at the hands of the champs. They are also still very slow paced, even if the bloom is off the defense to start the season. The Kings are the opposite, they are #1 in pace in the early going and are also one of the best offenses in the league so far.
The Kings, however, will be without DeMarcus Cousins, which clearly limits their offense. Who it doesn’t limit is Rudy Gay, whose Usage jumped up over 30 with Cousins off the floor last year. In a 33 minutes sample size this season, this has continued, with Gay over 34% usage. This could also greatly benefit Willie Cauley-Stein, who will see even more minutes if he can avoid getting into foul trouble against Marc Gasol.
Speaking of which, the Grizzlies will likely take out their embarrassment at the hands of the Warriors on the Kings, who have been seventh worst in defense. Memphis may give into the pace of the Kings just so they can use some extra possession to work the pain away. The frontcourt of Kosta Koufos and the rookie Cauley-Stein is a good place to start.
– Rudy Gay ($7,400)
– Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,000)
– Marc Gasol ($7,800)
– Tony Allen ($4,300)
Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Nuggets -1
The Los Angeles Lakers play fast and give up a lot of points. The Denver Nuggets used to be a pacy team, but under Mike Malone, just like the impact he had on pace in Sacramento, the Nuggets have slown down.
Denver can attack the Lakers in the backcourt, specifically the PG position, where they have allowed fantasy points galore to the three PGs they’ve faced already. This is good news to Nuggets rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, who would like a chance to bounce back after having to chase Russell Westbrook around the last game out and exact revenge on Byron Scott and the Lakers for passing on him in the draft and Scott saying that he wasn’t a true point guard. REVENGE!
Kenneth Faried has had an on-again, off-again back issue, but this would be a good game for him to be available for. The Lakers are likely without Brandon Bass up front, stretching an already weak Lakers front court thin.
With the Nuggets cobbling together the shooting guard position so far this season, it’s been a profitable one for opposing shooting guards. This will appeal to Kobe Bryant as well as Louis Williams off the bench. Kobe still uses a ton of possessions and will be looking to redeem himself after that 3-15 game against Wesley Matthews and the Dallas Mavericks.
– Emmanuel Mudiay ($5,900)
– Danilo Gallinari ($6,400)
– Kobe Bryant ($6,600)
– Jordan Clarkson ($5,200)